Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Advent Calendar Time

December first already! I can hardly believe it. I'm trying not to freak out about the fact that it's still sunny and in the 80's here. It doesn't feel Christmas-y at all, but we went forward anyway with taking down the fall decorations (mostly) and setting up the advent calendar.
Last year I wrote about wanting to get away from little gifts and treats on the advent calendar. Although that is a delightful tradition (which I remember very fondly from my own childhood), I want to make the season less about acquisition for these little boys and more about fun and magic. So I decided to do a "Christmasy Village" theme for the advent calendar. I collected little trinkets and Christmas items we already had onhand (and my mother contributed a lot from her stash too),
wrapped them all in tissue paper and tied them to the advent calendar with yarn (the advent calendar is from my childhood and I love it. It's impossible to photograph well, but you can see the whole thing here), and each day, a boy will take a turn removing an item and placing it in the Christmas Village.
I set up the little village today--just the skeleton of it--and the boys will fill it in as we go. There are three regions. The town (with houses I made--Dieter helped a little with the painting) . . .

the farm (my mother lent me this beautiful stable),
and the lake/forest. It's not very foresty yet, but the trees will be added as we go.
I want the village to be interactive for the boys, so they can arrange and rearrage it and play with it as they will. (So I took those candles down after taking these pictures--I'll replace them with little white Christmas lights when I can).

And . . .
:: it's so not to scale. I'm not worried about it--I just think it's kind of funny.
:: there are at least six nights where what they'll be opening is a tree. I wondered if each item should be different, but I guess it's okay this way. Just keeping it simple and easy feels right.
:: there are two wooden animals--a reindeer and and a husky dog--that are new and that are presents for the boys. So they are still getting gifts--just not every night of the month!
:: something is lost in stopping the old way. Faith was really disappointed about not getting her usual advent loot. I told her "I just don't want it to be about greed and acquisition anymore." And she replied, "but I'm greedy, and I want some . . . acquistion!" (Cutely). She said she really looked forward to her days to open a gift and she just really likes getting a little lipgloss or something. So there's that.

Gosh, I've put so much thought and planning into this--(as evidenced by my rambling on about it--if you've read down this far you are very sweet). I just hope it's something memorable for the children and hopefully fun and magical too.

16 comments:

megan said...

for me, it was always more about the surprise of what was inside it and less about what it was or whether or not it was new or old.
i tried to replicate your thanksgiving votive holders, but i couldn't find any jars or tissue paper, so i improvised. i think they still turned out pretty cute, and only one caught on fire.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_6maMP9oIKwk/STK143Hx-1I/AAAAAAAAAwg/ymzhl7XN6-Y/s1600-h/decor.jpg

Michaela said...

Oh, I really like the idea of building/completing a Christmas village.
I love houses you made. i don't have kids yet, but I sure hope I will remember your idea.
Thanks

Erna said...

lovely idea to built a christmas scene with things out of the advent calender. I like that too. LOVE advent calender no matter how or what is inside.

Sarah said...

What a fun idea. My girls would absolutely love something like this--even at their ages. We have never given gifts as part of Advent for the same reasons you are mentioning. I haven't wanted it to be about the stuff. I needle-felted an Advent calendar this year which inspired my girls. They have made their own and plan to add little needle-felted things to theirs every day. We'll see if it happens.

hsing3kinder said...

I think it is wonderful and I absolutely love that you are using the advent calendar from your childhood! This is our advent activity this year ~
http://of-five.blogspot.com/2008/11/this-week-kids-craft-weekly-is-about.html
Does your family celebrate St. Nick's day? It is perfect for receiving some lip gloss :-)

rere said...

So sweet!I love the village idea.

I made my daughter an advent calendar this past weekend and felt the same way.So I painted little wood ornaments to put on a mini tree.She was so excited about the whole thing.Plus it didn't hurt the excitement level that the first snow of the season came overnight.

Shannon said...

How wonderful! December kind of snuck up on me this year with thanksgiving being so close to the end of the month, that I am so not ready for my advent calendar, which makes me so sad! BUT this has inspired me that I can still pull something together (nothing near this fantastic!) and make it enjoyable for all the kids! Very, very beautiful!

Gretchen said...

This looks very fun! What a wonderful spot to stop and play. Love it!

Lisa said...

I love this idea. I made an advent calendar this year for my son, who is 3.5. I'll be doing things, but some days will only be a little piece of chocolate or candy. We started today with a mini candy bar. Tomorrow will be an action figure that was "thrown away" in the summer. I'll be posting pictures of it on Wednesday.

I'm hoping to make your lanterns for a Christmas activity- we'll use colored tissue paper instead of leaves. Everything here is dead and brown already.

Anonymous said...

Sending you some snow from Chicago. xoxo

KatieRae said...

I have also created advent monsters of my older children. (15& 10 yrs) Every year I did elabrate advent "gift" suprises. I am toning down for the babies (1 & 2 yrs) and the older kids as of last year- the house was a mess so they got tips and steps for de-cluttering thier rooms. they were VERY resistant. sigh. but they ended up with nice rooms and were happier! this year every day they will get a project part for making a gift for a family member. we'l see how it goes...

daniela said...

oh, i love that idea!
i'm so going to copy that for next year :)!

taimarie said...

This is a terrifc idea- so magic! We are doing an activity advent this year, we'll see how it goes!

gardenymph said...

This is indeed a very magical and special activity for your children. I really am in love with this idea. I m feeling a hobby store trip coming on, just to get a few supplies to start our own advent village. I am on the same page with you, less is indeed more, memories are what we treasure, not the booty. :~)

Thank you for sharing this wonderful wonderful part of your family tradition.

stephanie said...

Hi Mary Beth- I just found your blog and wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading it. All the simple, fun traditions your family has is inspiring. I just became a mom a few months ago, and I'm really looking forward to creating some of our own traditions, especially since growing up I didn't have very many. Thanks for sharing!

Christi said...

Found you today through MomAdvice - love this idea. I've been wanting to do a "village" for sometime now, but I just don't love anything I've seen in stores. Thanks for the inspiration!